The Revised Code ensures the District of Columbia has criminal statutes that are clear, consistent, and constitutionally sound.
Most states engaged in a similar process in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, when they adopted the American Law Institute’s Model Penal Code.
The Criminal Code Reform Commission wrote down the elements of each criminal offense, spelling out in detail what conduct, result, circumstances, and intent are required. This means the law can be better understood and enforced.
The Revised Code finally organizes offenses into classes (e.g., Class A – E misdemeanor, Class 1 – 9 felony). It includes more degrees of offenses than current law (e.g., Third Degree Robbery), which makes it difficult to compare it to current law.
Some maximum penalties were increased while others were decreased. For example, the RCCA’s penalties for shooting a firearm and for attempting to shoot a person are much higher than they are under current law. So are the penalties for possessing an assault weapon or ghost gun, or for sexual abuse of a child.
Whose Idea Was This?
The RCCA is the product of 16 years of research, writing, deep listening, and compromise.
The Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia
The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice
The DC Council Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety
The Advisory Group unanimously voted to send the RCCA recommendations to the DC Council.
The DC Council held three public hearings on the RCCA in 2021, over a year before the Council voted on the final revised bill.
During those hearings, the Council heard from members of the public, people with lived experience in the criminal legal system, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners, experts who helped research and write the bill, national experts on criminal justice, representatives from the Mayor’s office, the Metropolitan Police Department, the Office of the Attorney General, the US Attorney’s Office, and local community advocates.
How Did The Commission Decide What to Change?
For years, the Commission:
Completed a thorough review of current law in the District, researched law and practices across the 50 states, and reviewed relevant legal scholarship;
To create a uniform and proportionate penalty classification system, the Commission 1) ranked each offense by severity, 2) determined how many classes of offenses there should be, 3) classified each offense, and 4) selected penalties for each class.
RCCA is The first comprehensive revision of the D.C. Code since THE YEAR 1901.